Lets start with the symptoms. Unless the converter seriously overheated and became plugged, it's not going to prevent the engine from running. It is a part of the exhaust system, very close to the engine, and ahead of the muffler. On '96 and newer models sold in the U.S. Its operation is monitored by the Engine computer. If you have a V-6 engine, you could have two converters. If either one fails to clean the exhaust properly, the Check Engine light will turn on and there will be a stored diagnostic fault code related to "catalytic converter efficiency". The engine will still run just fine if that's all that's wrong.
Misfires, as in old and worn spark plugs, and other causes can allow way too much raw unburned fuel to go into the exhaust. THAT can cause overheating of the catalyst material until it melts and becomes plugged. Normally the Check Engine light will flash when that happens to tell you to stop the engine immediately before the converter overheats.
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Saturday, January 14th, 2012 AT 6:03 AM